Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: Carey, Allfree and Cairns' "Warfare in the Medieval World"

Published by Pen & Sword Military press (2006), Brian Carey and Joshua Allfree have assembled the best military analysis of the medieval age I have ever read. Accompanied by the fantastically explanatory and evolutionary illustrations of John Cairns, this book demonstrates applied tactical doctrine through 33 battles and their accompanying campaigns, debugging the persistent historical myths and misconceptions of medieval warfare and generalship.

Specific to mid thirteenth century warfare, Chapter 5 'Late Medieval Warfare: The Return of Light Infantry" dedicates 38 pages to an analysis of the battle of Bouvines (1214) and the campaigns of Edward in Wales and Scotland to demonstrate the importance of combined arms fieldcraft, the importance of infantry in the age of chivalric warfare and the increasing presence and impact of ranged weaponry of the crossbow and selfbow armed soldiery.

Of particular interest is a discussion of horse armour in response to archery. Whilst it tends to concentrate this discourse on the later, Hundred Years war period of plate armour and barding in the face of the longbow and windlass crossbow, I would argue that the same concepts must extend back to the earliest introduction of quilted and caparison horse protection, so prevalent by the battle of Lewes.

This is a must have edition for any student of medieval military history.

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